Sometimes the story behind a movie is actually better than the drama's plot.
When "Dreamgirls" premiered last month, 25-year-old Jennifer Hudson, who plays singer Effie White, was amazed at getting star treatment. She's now one of the biggest success stories in Hollywood as it hands out its awards for the year.
"It never occurred to me, not one time, that I wanted to be a part of the awards season," she said. "To have won a Golden Globe and be an Oscar nominee. … I laugh at it all the time.… I cannot believe this."
She describes the past few months as a "whirlwind."
"I don't even know what's been happening. … I just came back from Germany and Paris and London. … It's been full of awards shows and performances and traveling," Hudson said.
Quite a switch from just a few years ago, when, as a competitor on "America Idol," her appearance and singing abilities were trashed by judge Simon Cowell, who once quipped, "I don't think you're capable of doing anything better -- to have any chance at all in this competition."
She was unceremoniously hustled off, sixth runner-up, but kept on performing.
"A real dream never dies. I don't know, maybe God told me it was something in store for me. I knew it was something, because I dreamed up a dream my whole life, and I knew 'American Idol' wasn't it. I just kept going," she said.
Diva in Training
Hudson was right to hold out for more in her career. She would eventually beat out 782 other would-be "dream girls" who also auditioned for the film about a girl group patterned after the Supremes.
"It was actually [a] six-month process, three different auditions," Hudson said. "Every time they'd call it was something different. And when the final time came after that third audition I knew this was it. … If it doesn't happen this time … then it's not going to happen."
The role as an up-and-coming singer now seems tailor-made for Hudson.
"There definitely are similarities between Effie and myself, like her journey with the Dreams, and my journey through 'American Idol,'" she said. "Both of us going against all odds and just trying to pursue our goals and dreams and prevailing in the end," she said.
But she did need some coaching for one aspect of the role. Effie goes from lead singer to backup girl when Beyoncé Knowles' character is chosen to head their girl group, news the spirited Effie did not take lightly.
Hudson said she went through "Diva 101" training for the part. "I had to walk out, come in late … just speak my mind and do what Effie would do," she said.
But she's happy to leave that training behind. "I don't like the term 'diva.' … I like who I am. That's one of my ultimate goals … to remain who I am," she said.
And that could be a challenge for the Southside Chicago native as the accolades pour in. Two weeks ago, at the Golden Globe Awards, the Hollywood newcomer won best supporting actress.
At the time she said, "I have always dreamed, but never ever this big. Ever. This goes far beyond anything that I could have ever imagined."
And then this week, she was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar, along with Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi of "Babel," Cate Blanchett for "Notes on a Scandal" and Abigail Breslin for "Little Miss Sunshine."
"I didn't see any of it coming," Hudson said. "I've always dreamed of being a singer. I never would have guessed I'd have won a Golden Globe before a Grammy … but I like this plan. I'm enjoying it."
She said she wants to keep acting, after releasing an album, and reminds others to follow their dreams.
"Anything is possible," Hudson said. "Two to three years ago we'd never have guessed I'd be here today. Just go for it. You have nothing to lose."